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15th hk arts development awards_舞蹈手札  67

[中][Eng]《舞・雷雨》Thunderstorm

June 19, 2020

(英文原文刊於2012年的第十四冊第六期Originally published in dance journal/hk 14-6 in 2012. This is a translation of the Chinese article, not a transcript of the interview done in English)

 

 

在本地,特別是在大型舞團中,「舞劇」是一種很受歡迎的舞蹈創作形式。對我這一個經常觀看香港舞蹈作品的觀眾來說,舞劇這個概念看來確是吸引,但同時也不無疑問。它受歡迎的原因是容易理解的:一條故事線,特別是著名的、受歡迎的情節,肯定有助於普通觀眾欣賞抽象的藝術形式,因此有利於市場推廣和觀眾拓展。但是,作為一種創作藝術形式,它的成果往往令人失望。這創作任務之所以是如此具挑戰性,個中原因其實也容易理解,因為從基因上而言,舞蹈本身就是不擅長描畫故事細節或複雜情節;因此,一部舞劇的舞蹈部分,總是受到故事情節本身的制肘。從劇情強加到舞蹈中的意念,很多時是幾乎不可能以動作編排來表達的。其他一些較成功的作品,會故意捨棄敘事情節,而專注於從故事中抽取出來的一些概念,但代價是減弱了作品中的戲劇一面。這些作品,如果不是全部的話,也大多數都被視為舞蹈劇場,而不是完完全全的舞劇。因此,舞劇在香港通常停留為一種理想化的藝術形式,是一項對本地藝術家既吸引又有趣的挑戰。

 

五年多以前,在一篇發表在《舞蹈手札》的舞劇評論中,我提出了一個解決這個難題的明顯方法:或許需要導演或編劇等戲劇藝術家的參與,才可以創作一齣成功的舞劇。那時,我沒有想到,最終戰勝這項挑戰的並非舞團,而是一個劇團。

 

夙負盛名的中國劇作家曹禺在大約80年前創作的知名戲劇《雷雨》,被「鄧樹榮戲劇工作室」為2012年「新視野藝術節」重新詮釋為一齣「現代中國舞蹈和形體劇場的無聲劇」。這個由鄧樹榮導演和邢亮編舞的創作,於10月26日至28日在香港文化中心劇場演出,為舞劇應有的面貌和其潛能作出完美的示範。

 

這次成功的基礎,是將故事提煉成適合舞蹈表演的戲劇精粹,這也是它與其他舞劇嘗試的最大不同之處。儘管選取合適的故事可以有一定的幫助,這仍然是一件不容易的工作,需要對兩種藝術形式都有真正的了解,才能有效地完成。將故事分拆成合理數目的舞蹈場景,還需要很多心思考量;在《舞・雷雨》中,這最能在簡短的〈序〉中展現。在這開首一幕中,一家人仿似是在拍家庭合照般,各個成員或坐在舞台中央巨大而沉重的沙發之上,或站在其後。但原本正式拘謹的構圖,很快因各人視線的轉移、頭顱的轉動、身體的傾斜、手臂的伸延而變動,揭示了家庭成員之間或明或暗、錯綜複雜的關係。如何通過動作來解釋複雜的關係,是每個試圖創作舞劇的編舞者所面對的主要難題,但《舞・雷雨》以這一幕經濟而輕易地解決了它,並成功地為戲劇定下調子,把觀眾引進故事之中。

 

生動的角色渲染,也是《舞・雷雨》成功的因素之一。為此,至關重要的是對戲劇原作進行周密的編輯,為每個角色提供了足夠的時間來以動作建立性格。權威但衰老的父親(黃磊飾演),風韻猶存、飽受壓抑但又背叛丈夫的心狠母親(華琪鈺飾演),內心鬱悶沉重而又負疚的長子(李德飾演),一身陽光氣息和活力、心中無憂的幼子(李朗軒飾演),以及聰敏親切而可愛的女僕(李埕飾演),都有各自的獨舞,流利地描畫了性格。通過舞蹈動作來渲染角色並不是什麼新鮮事,但很少看到如這舞劇所達到的可信性和清晰度。為了做到這點,邢亮的舞蹈編排與他以往的作品,有著明顯的不同:為了把角色編得有血有肉,他捨棄了自已善長的、鋒芒畢露的動作語言,為舞者量身定製動作,令他們演來得心應手。在角色裡注入這樣的戲劇準確性,在舞蹈演出中甚為罕見,這當然是有賴鄧樹榮的導演工作了。

 

《舞. 雷雨》德州大劇院演出 攝影:榮軒(圖片由JCNAP 提供)

 

《舞・雷雨》的另一個特質,是它所營造的戲劇張力。全舞沒有說出一個字,戲劇的張力全是藉著邢的編舞和鄧的指導,透過動作來建立。在第二幕〈吃藥〉中的張力尤其逼人。所有主要角色都有上場的這一幕,可以視作為整個舞劇的核心段落,在描畫父母和長子的性格,以及他們之間複雜的關係上,尤見有效、有力,營造出緊扣人心的張力。然而,並非所有場景都充滿了動作。女僕和她的母親(孫鳳枝飾演)兩人演出的短短一幕,在陰暗中沿斜線慢慢地走過舞台,各自輕搖葵扇,簡單的設計給戲劇帶來了高潮來臨之前片刻的寧靜,亦有效地呈現了母女之間簡樸平靜的關係,與周家各人的關係和繃緊的局面形成鮮明對比。

 

總體而言,《舞・雷雨》是邢亮和鄧樹榮兩人一次聚焦於舞劇創作的實驗。「別出心裁」常被誤認為是創作的唯一法門,但他們並沒有這樣的試圖,而是腳踏實地地完成任務。這也是真正的合作和跨媒體製作的難得例子,因為作品中的舞蹈和戲劇兩者不可分割,兩者完全平衡,而又出色地完整。在這個充滿了「創意」、「合作」和「跨媒體」,但往往對此種種都沒有基本了解的的舞蹈界中,《舞・雷雨》的成功,為我們帶來了啟示。

 

As a regular attendee of dance productions in Hong Kong, I find the so-called 'dance-drama', a dance format that is quite popular locally especially for big dance companies, a seemingly attractive but also a somewhat dubious idea. It is easy to see why it is popular: a storyline, especially that of a famous and well-liked narrative, is surely helpful for general audiences to appreciate the abstract art form, and therefore good for marketing and audience building. However, as a creative art form, the results are often disappointing. It is easy to understand why it is such a challenging task for dance itself is genetically not good at depicting story details or complicated plots, and as a result, the dance part of a dance-drama is always restricted by the storyline itself, which, in most cases, imposes ideas that are almost impossible to choreograph. Some other more successful works willingly discard the narrative but focus on some ideas abstracted from the story, at the expense of the drama of the work. In many cases, if not all, these works are considered as dance theatre, and not exactly dance-drama. As a result, dance-drama often remains an idealistic art form in Hong Kong that proposes an attractive and interesting challenge to local artists.

 

More than half a decade ago, in a review of a dance-drama published in dance journal/hk, I suggested an obvious approach to the challenge: the involvement of drama artists, a director or a playwright, might be needed to make a dance-drama successful. Little did I know then that the challenge would be finally tackled successfully not by a dance company but by a drama company.

 

Thunderstorm, a famous play written about 80 years ago by renowned Chinese playwright Cao Yu, was re-interpreted into a 'pantomime of modem Chinese dance and physical theatre' by Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio as a production for the 2012 New Vision Arts Festival. Created by Director Tang Shu-wing and Choreographer Xing Liang, and performed at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Studio Theatre on October 26-28, the work is a perfect demonstration of how a dance-drama should be and how much it can achieve.

《舞・雷雨》首演預告片 Trailer of Thunderstorm Premiere

 

The foundation of the success, which is its single most important difference from other attempts in dance-drama, is the stripping down of the story into a dramatic essence that is suitable to be rendered by dance. It is true that the story choice helped to make it easier, but the task was still not easy, for it needs true understanding of both art forms to tackle the task effectively. Much thought is also needed to break the story down to a reasonable number of dance scenes. The thoughtfulness is best reflected in the short Prologue, in which characters of the family are arranged sitting on and standing behind a grand and heavy couch in the centre of the stage, seemingly to have their photo taken. The formal composition is soon transformed by shifting gazes, turning hearts, body inclinations, reaching hands, and the complicated relationships of the family members, both open and secret, are revealed. The scene economically and effortlessly solves a major problem faced by all choreographers attempting to create a dance-drama — to explain complicated relationships through movements — and successfully renders a tone to the drama that draws the audience into the narrative.

 

One factor contributing to the success of Thunderstorm is the vivid character rendering. For this, the thoughtful editing of the play, which has given sufficient time for each role to develop its character with movements, is crucial. The authoritative but failing father (performed by Huang Lei); the luscious, repressed, but revolting and malicious mother (performed by Tina Hua); the smothered, heavy-hearted, and guilty-conscious elder son (performed by Li De); the sunny, bouncy, and worry-free younger son (performed by Li Long-hin); and, the deft, pleasant, and adorable maid (performed by Li Cheng), all have their own solos that fluently portray their characters. Rendering characters through dance movements is nothing new, but the credibility and clarity achieved in Thunderstorm is outstanding. To accomplish this, Xing's choreography is clearly different from works he has previously choreographed: in order to flesh out his characters he refrained from using his usual brilliant movement language for which he has a great talent. The choreography was well tailored for the dancers, who present a compelling performance. The dramatic accuracy infused in the characters is seldom seen in dance performance, which is certainly due to the contribution of Tang's directorship.

 

Another unique quality of Thunderstorm is the dramatic tension it created. Without a single word being spoken, Xing's choreography and Tang's directorship use movements to build up the tension of the drama. The tension is especially palpable in Scene 2, Taking the Medicine. Involving all the major characters, it could be considered as the center piece of the production. It is particularly effective and powerful in illustrating the characters of, and complicated relationships among, the parents and the elder son. The tension developed was gripping. However, not all the scenes are filled with movements. The short scene with the maid and her mother (performed by Iris Sun) in which they slowly walk diagonally across the stage in the dark, each slightly fanning a palm-leaf fan, was simply designed, but provided the drama with a moment of tranquillity before the arrival of the climax, and effectively rendered the simple and placid relationship between mother and daughter, a sharp contrast to the relationships and tensions in the Zhou's family.

 

Overall, Thunderstorm is a focused experiment of dance-drama between Xing and Tang. They do not try to be ‘ingenious’, which is often mistaken as the only way to be creative, but to tackle the task with a down-to-earth approach. It is also a rare example of true collaboration and cross-media production in the sense that the dance and drama are not separable and they are well balanced and brilliantly complete. In a dance scene that is replete with 'invention', 'collaboration', and 'cross-media' but that often lacks even a fundamental understanding of any of these, the triumph of Thunderstorm is inspiring.

 

客席編輯Guest Editor: 劉秀群Cathy Lau Sau Kwan | 翻譯Translation:施德安 Cecil Sze  

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